Phyllis: Two sticks and some string. That’s the most basic definition of knitting. The sticks might be metal or wood. The string might be yarn or flax. But in the hands of a knitter, even an unskilled one such as I, they become magic.
In the chilly months, we bundle up in cozy sweaters, snug mittens, hats that hug our heads.… more
Phyllis: Winter in the north is made of longer and longer nights. What better time to think about lullabies, those songs we sing to our babies to help them sleep? Research has shown how similar lullabies are all around the world in the sounds and rhythms they use to soothe babies. So we thought we’d take a trip with some of those lullaby books, and a few more besides.… more
November is a month of gratitude — and, for us, a month to celebrate Pie. We all have a favorite. Many of us have childhood memories of good times and pie. We all wait for the days when we can eat pie for breakfast. So we two thought this would be the perfect month to look at picture books about pie.… more
Poet Lucille Clifton in a 1998 interview “Doing What You Will Do,” published in Sleeping with One Eye Open: Women Writers and the Art of Survival, said, “I think the oral tradition is the one which is most interesting to me and the voice in which I like to speak.” Asked about the most important aspect of her craft, she answered, “For me, sound … sound, the music of a poem, the feeling are most important.… more
This summer, deeply troubling stories about migrants and refugees at the US-Mexican border have come to us in newspaper stories, recordings, photographs, and videos. In choosing to separate children from their parents, our government has shown a disturbing lack of empathy for people fleeing violence and turmoil in their home countries. It is our hope that these picture books will help foster empathy and shed light on the complex issues of migration for young readers, while giving a sense of the courage, resilience, and humanity behind each journey.… more
Jackie: Phyllis is on the road with her beautiful and informative new book Searching for Minnesota’s Native Wildflowers. [While Phyllis is out of the room, I will say that I love this book. It makes me want to get out and find flowers. Iowa has many plants in common with Minnesota and I look forward to tromping with Phyllis and Kelly.)… more
Jackie: Spring is a little late coming to the Midwest this year. But we can remember sunny days with violets and trillium blooming and rainy days that turn the grass green (instead of the snow we continue to get in mid-April). Rainy days make us think of ducks and we are going to beckon reluctant spring with stories of ducks.… more
When our children were young we both spent many hours with them pouring over Wendy Watson’s illustrations for her sister Clyde’s rhymes in Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes and delighting in the sounds and the silliness of the rhymes themselves. We felt as though we had lost a personal friend when Wendy Watson died, even though we had never met her.… more
Phyllis: February is the month of valentines and lovers, and we spent a day (through his books) with someone we love: Arnold Lobel.
He wrote easy reader stories that help children crack the code of reading, give them fun stories with characters who remind us of people we know and that give readers of all ages plenty to think about.… more
This month, Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis Root, the usual hosts of this column, have invited Kari Pearson to share her recommendations for funny picture books.
Let’s play a game! It’s called Funny/Not Funny. It goes like this:
Funny: Eating greasy bloaters with cabbage-and-potato sog (see: How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen)
Not Funny: Shoveling gigantic snowdrifts out of my driveway into piles almost as tall as myself.… more
Phyllis: The first real snow has fallen overnight, and the quality of light when I wake up is luminous outside the window. Solstice approaches, and we’ve turned our thoughts to books about winter and snow. So many to choose from! Here are a few.
When my grown daughter saw a copy of Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton on my bookshelf, she cried, “Oh!… more
Jackie: This is gratitude season and that is a good reminder. Many of us have plenty to be grateful for and we often forget that while waiting for the next good things. It’s also Pie Season. It is the one time of the year at my house when we have no holds barred on pie. Everyone gets to have a favorite at Thanksgiving.… more
*Even though kindle means cats born in the same litter, the alliteration was hard to resist.“All my work is done in the company of cats,” writes Nicola Bayley, wonderful picture book artist and writer, in her book The Necessary Cat.
I know what she means. Right now my cat Luna is sitting on the open copy of The Kittens’ ABC, clearly a cat of discerning literary taste.… more
It’s good to be back on this blog this month. We took a necessary break, but cannot be away from talking about books for too long. The pressure builds…
Phyllis is busy writing in the North Woods, so I am bee-side myself with enthusiasm for doing this blog.
We have a make-shift birdbath on our deck, next to our hummingbird and oriole feeders, and this summer the bees have found the bird bath.… more
Jackie: Recently Phyllis and I read a heart-breaking column in The New YorkTimes, written by author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who wrote many children’s books, and a couple of books for adults.
The column, written as a love-note to her husband from a dying wife, was heartfelt, sad, and funny all at the same time.… more
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